Eggplant Substitutes To Consider If You Don't Have The Real Thing

Eggplant is a fabulously versatile veggie. Its rich, meaty taste and substantial texture make it a great substitute for meat and a star in stand-alone dishes (per University of Nebraska and Have a Plant). However, not everyone loves the strong flavor of the purple, teardrop-shaped vegetable. Or there might be a time when you're trying out a ratatouille recipe on the fly and just don't have the big purple veggie on hand.

Luckily, despite its distinctive flavor, there are some great substitutes out there for eggplant that can mimic the flavor or texture, or just fill that void of a substantial veggie to carry a dish. But not just any old vegetable can do that. Celery parmesan? No, thank you. Few veggies can do what eggplant does and make a dish just as hearty. But there are some options to get you close to the real thing without spoiling a meal. You may even find a new favorite dish with these substitutes.

Easy eggplant swaps

It's important to remember that eggplant is great for making a filing dish, so your substitute must do the same. The easiest swap for eggplant is other varieties of eggplant (per Gourmet Sleuth). The type of eggplant we're most familiar with is the teardrop-shaped globe eggplant, also known as an American eggplant, but there are many other types. There's the almost zucchini-shaped Japanese eggplant, smaller Italian eggplant, beautiful striped or Rosa Bianca eggplant, and tiny Thai eggplant (per The Spruce Eats). While these types might look wildly different (like the white eggplant), they only vary slightly in taste and texture.

If you want to get away from eggplants altogether, there are still some great options. The second most obvious choice is the sturdy zucchini. This veggie makes a great substitute in Italian dishes. If you really don't like the flavor or texture of eggplant, but want a hearty veg that can still carry a dish, turn to okra. This veggie has a wholly different rich, earthy flavor and a texture all its own. Its flavor gets better the longer you cook it, so it's a great substitute for stews, like a ratatouille or a caponata recipe (per The Washington Post). If you're making something where you long for that meaty texture, look no further than the portobello mushroom. This hearty mushroom offers a beefy flavor, in addition to its dense texture (per One Planet). No eggplant, no problem!